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Integrity Guitarist Dom Romeo Pays Tribute to Mighty Sphincter’s Doug Clark

Ok, before you do anything, watch the music video below and keep in mind it is was created by a DIY punk band in 1985:

Welcome to the world of Mighty Sphincter.

Decades ago, I received a random gift in the mail from Dwid in the form of Mighty Sphincter’s In the Kingdom of Heaven LP. I had heard so much about this legendary Arizona band, but never had the opportunity to check them out until then.  

When I dropped the needle onto the first track, "Hollywood Goes to Hell," I was immediately floored by this strange fusion of metal-infused death-rock sauced with odd time signatures and some of the weirdest guitar playing I had ever heard. Naturally, it led me to seek out all of their material and find out anything I could about this band.

Guitarist Doug Clark (whom was affectionally dubbed "The Count" due to the rumor of him being an actual vampire) was an Arizona punk legend since the late 1970s, playing guitar in such bands as The Brainz, The Exterminators, and of course, Mighty Sphincter. Come to think of it, “playing” guitar might not be the best way to describe it.

Doug managed to flow stream of conscious licks that sounded like madness uncoiling, like an endless staircase that twists and turns in all directions. To this day, I’ve never heard anyone play guitar like him.

The band started out as an early '80s punk band with creative musicianship and even crazier stage shows. Over time, they morphed into a creepy and morose death-rock/goth metal juggernaut which was my favorite era of the band—specifically, the lineup of Greg Hynes (drums), Joe Albanese R.I.P. (Bass), Doug Clark R.I.P. (guitar) and Bil Yanok on vocals). I would also remiss if I didn’t mention original vocalist Ron Reckless (R.I.P.) as an important part of the band’s descent into madness.  

It should also be noted they had a great penchant for pranks and rumors that added a whole layer of mystery to the band during pre-Internet times. Everything from faking death, sold out concerts at Hammersmith Odeon, working with Alice Cooper, to weird rap aliases, bizarre phone calls…bootleg action figures from Russia. Anything was possible in the MS universe.  

Eventually during my tenure running A389 Recordings, we hooked up with The Count and worked on a couple of small 7” releases for Mighty Sphincter. One being the "Resurrection/Inferno of Joy" single, and the other being a collaboration effort featuring members of Integrity, Pulling Teeth, and Pale Creation re-working some MS classics:

It was always a dream for our circle of friends within the A389/Integrity universe to see this band of miscreants get their due. We had always hoped to play a show with Mighty Sphincter one day, but it never panned out despite feeling it was just a matter of time and place.

Sadly, that time will never come as Doug Clark passed away over the weekend of March 21. It really hit me quickly how fast someone can be gone forever and that creative well is dried up forever.  

There will really never be anyone like him or his band again.  

Rest In Peace, Count Doug Clark. Thanks for all the amazing music. 

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